East Elementary School students Gabriel, and Daniel Teixeira, who are 9 and 7 respectively, are cowboys.
At a local rodeo, after mutton bustin’, when kids ride on bucking sheep instead of bucking broncos, the two kids saw a bullfighter, Jake Geiger, sporting an unusual look for a masculine cowboy: long, flowing locks.
“He said (he was) donating (his) hair for kids that have cancer,” Gabriel said, after his Saturday morning soccer game.
After hearing Geiger, the two boys wanted to do the same. So for a year and a half, they each grew out their hair to turn into a wig.
“I lost my niece recently from cancer,” said their mother, Elcione Pereira. She was around Gabriel’s age, and the family had fond memories of going to Disney together.
The boys cut out eight inches of their hair a week ago at the Glamour Puss Salon in Port Charlotte, who shipped their hair to “Wigs for Kids.”
“Children shouldn’t have to worry about how they look, especially when they’re in the middle of a health crisis,” said Wigs for Kids founder Jeffrey Paul on their website. “We want to give these kids the opportunity to feel good about themselves again.”
Each wig is valued at $1,800, the website states, but kids who are approved get the wigs free of charge.
Though the two were doing a good thing, their simple gesture of generosity spawned ridicule. “One day at my school, I went in the pool, a kid said I looked like a girl,” Daniel said.
“Whenever it’s wet, it’s longer,” Gabriel added. “I said ‘don’t call me a girl because I’m donating my hair.’”
“It was their own decision,” said their father, Renato Teixeira. “When they got picked on, it didn’t bother them... we were very proud of them.”
And though cowboys are known for being free on the open land, they actually have a code. According to the Center for Cowboy Ethics & Leadership in Austin, Texas, cowboys “live every day with courage,” “take pride in their work” and “always finish what (they) start.”
Seeing how Gabriel and Daniel took the initiative to grow out their hair for those in need, they really are true cowboys.
The boys will be riding mini bulls Friday at Lee County Posse Arena’s Cracker Day Rodeo, sporting their short hair, of course.